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AT&T returns unused Mexican spectrum, report says

13 Jan 2023

AT&T Mexico has reportedly returned certain blocks of spectrum to the Federal Telecommunications Institute (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, IFT), due to concerns over the high price of the frequencies. According to El Economista, the telco informed the watchdog of its plans via a video conference on 20 December 2022. It has subsequently emerged that AT&T has returned a 10MHz block of AWS spectrum covering Regions 1 and 2, and 3MHz in the 850MHz band covering Mexico City and Guadalajara.

With Movistar returning its entire spectrum allocation back in 2020, in favour of a capacity deal with AT&T, and wholesale operator ALTAN Redes (Red Compartida) requiring a government-led bailout last year, AT&T’s actions will be a cause for concern at the IFT, ahead of its planned 5G spectrum auction this year.

Mexico is understood to have some of the highest spectrum prices in Latin America. Successful bidders pay an upfront fee as well as an annual frequency usage fee for the duration of the concession; with licences generally valid for 20 years the prices of the licences are far higher than the equivalent concessions in other markets.

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